Friday, August 24, 2012

Speaking of pronunciation: We get no respect!

 Have talked about this before, but, obviously, it deserves a little more attention!
Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker
About a decade ago, at the TESOL conference in Long Beach, we had something of a talent show. The topic of the 12-bar blues that I wrote for that evening was the lack of respect afforded the syllable in pronunciation teaching at the time. (Actually, that hasn't changed much since!) Of course there is nothing quite as effective in making you feel better about most anything than singing the blues about it. Turns out there is now empirical evidence that that works--and how! Two studies reported in Science Daily confirm that if you just talk it out, even in the most negative of terms, it'll make you feel better about it, whatever it is. (Granted that may be yet another candidate for the "Well . . . duh!" file.) Anyway, if you want to feel better about your syllables or the fact that we "Pronunciattis" just get no respect, here's an excerpt from  the song: (If you need the other 8 verses to get all the way to feel good, email me!) 

The Syllablues

Oh, I am just a syllable
But I got this vowel in my heart. (2x)‏
Sometimes there’s a consonant
Or even a glide at the start.

Oh but suprasegmentally, you say
I become something else. (2x)‏
Not just a crummy syllable
I can be myself.

Yeah, sometimes I do get stressed, Honey,
Sometimes I don’t. (2x)‏
But when I do, Teacher
Just swish you’d take note.

Yes, my timing as a syllable
Could be more lonely and blue (2x)
If my speech stream wasn’t filled with so many . . . hot
Discourse processes like you.

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